I decided to stop by Ajisen (14 Mott st betw Chatam Sq and Pell) since i'm in Chinatown all the time. The topic of Ramen has been discussed recently and i thought i would try it. Before I give my opinion let me just say that i haven't tried any other places in NY but just about two months ago i was in Tokyo and hit up a couple places there.
Now i had the Chashu-men (#3) and an order of Gyoza. the gyoza was nothing spectacular but i liked it since it wasn't too oily. The Ramen was good. Wasn't as good as Tokyo but for the price $6.50 its a lot cheaper than traveling to Tokyo. Based on previous posters (Aki, i believe) noodles were mentioned as an important aspect. this is one area where it was good but couldn't compare to Tokyo. Another aspect that i was surprised with was the Chashu (roast pork). I'm 100% sure this place is owned by chinese people (overheard most of the staff) and roast pork is pretty common in chinatown so they should be able to get better meat. It wasn't quite as tender as i thought it would be.
But worth a try and next will be Men Kui Tei by Wall st.
I also stopped in to see what the deal was at Ajisen this past weekend. While it wasn't bad, nothing was really great about the fare. I had the #1 Ajisen ramen and gyoza. The broth was fine, but the noodles seemed, well, a little plastic, for lack of a better word. And there was a microscopic trace of pork in the gyoza. That was pretty aggravating. I agree with Aki that it felt very McDonalds-ish in there.
As for the predominance of chinese, I think I read on the little descritive card at the table that Ajisen is a chain in Japan opened by a Taiwanese family. I think the guys manning the ramen stations are japanese, and the servers are mostly chinese. I thought I heard the manager speak in both languages. As for the cha-shu thing, I believe it is customary for ramen shops to use a japanese version of chashu, instead of the reddish ones you see hanging in the bbq joints. At least this has been my experience from the many bowls I've had in LA, NY and Japan.